Republicans blast Mainstream Media…with $1,000,000,000 in Anti-Obama ads

Republican super PACs and other outside groups shaped by a loose network of prominent conservatives – including Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – plan to spend roughly $1 billion on November’s elections for the White House and control of Congress, according to officials familiar with the groups’ internal operations. That total includes previously undisclosed plans for newly aggressive spending by the Koch brothers, who are steering funding to build sophisticated, county-by-county operations in key states. POLITICO has learned that Koch-related organizations plan to spend about $400 million ahead of the 2012 elections – twice what they had been expected to commit.

Probably the sickest thing about it is that these organizations claim they aren’t political in nature, but are actually providing a public service. Nothing quite like billionaires telling working people that “we” are broke and they need their tax cut extended permanently. —- GOP groups plan record $1 billion blitz – Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei
UPDATE: Former Supreme Court Justice Stevens speaks out on the ruling (“Citizens United”) that allows these shenanigans to happen.  BTW, in their ruling, the SCOTUS claimed stuff like this wouldn’t happen.  They were obviously wrong.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has said he expects the court has already had second thoughts about parts of its controversial Citizens United ruling that eased restrictions on corporate spending in political campaigns.

The sharply divided court ruled that independent spending by corporations does “not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Stevens, who dissented from that 2010 decision, said that at some point the court will have to issue an opinion “explicitly crafting an exception that will create a crack in the foundation” of that ruling.

Speaking to hundreds of people at a Wednesday night event in Little Rock, the retired justice said President Barack Obama accurately criticized the ruling for reversing a century of law and allowing special interest groups to pump money into elections.

He cited Justice Samuel Alito’s reaction to Obama’s criticism, along with one of the court’s later rulings when the justices rejected a free-speech challenge from humanitarian aid groups to a law that bars support to terrorist organizations.

The conundrum the court has created is pretty simple….corporations are non-citizens that can spend unlimited amounts of money to sway elections…BUT…certain types of corporate non-citizens are barred from this process.   The justification that the 1st Amendment applies to some classes on non-citizen organizations but doesn’t apply to other non-citizens is lacking.

The simplest and most obvious solution would be to reverse the notion that entities that exist only on paper have any rights at all…but considering they can use unlimited funds to now protects those rights makes the situation somewhat more problematic.

This Week in the Police State…

First up…the Comitatas Posse is back in town, militarizing the homeland.

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Tuesday to keep a controversial provision to let the military detain terrorism suspects on U.S. soil and hold them indefinitely without trial — prompting White House officials to reissue a veto threat.

The measure, part of the massive National Defense Authorization Act, was also opposed by civil libertarians on the left and right. But 16 Democrats and an independent joined with Republicans to defeat an amendment by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) that would have killed the provision, voting it down with 61 against, and 37 for it.

“Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who offered another amendment — which has not yet gotten a vote — that she said would correct the problem. “We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge.”

Backers of military detention of Americans — a measure crafted by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) — came out swinging against Udall’s amendment on the Senate floor earlier Tuesday.

“The enemy is all over the world. Here at home. And when people take up arms against the United States and [are] captured within the United States, why should we not be able to use our military and intelligence community to question that person as to what they know about enemy activity?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.

“They should not be read their Miranda Rights. They should not be given a lawyer,” Graham said. “They should be held humanely in military custody and interrogated about why they joined al Qaeda and what they were going to do to all of us.”

[full story]

The White House has promised a veto, so we’ll see if that happens or not.

When it comes to partisan divide…this is a pretty bright line in the sand.

“It’s one of those things where … it’s bipartisan on both sides. Levin’s not on the same page as the White House. We’ve got our own internal differences; Paul and Kirk don’t agree with Graham,” said a senior GOP aide just before the vote. “Everybody’s trying to do the right thing. There’s just a difference of opinion.”

Even though Paul was joined only by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on his side of the aisle, the issue was contentious at the Republicans’ weekly caucus lunch.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) emerged from the meeting — where former Vice President Dick Cheney was in attendance — saying his colleagues had “a spirited discussion” about Udall’s amendment, and predicted nearly all Republicans would oppose the amendment, as they did.

Nothing like having a war criminal tip the balance of debate.

On the corporate side of things, there is another strong push to give Corporate America control of the Internet (via DNS-blacklisting, a la China).   Sadly, some judges already think they have this authority.

As a whole bunch of folks have sent in a District Court judge in Nevada issued some rather stunning orders lately concerning websites that luxury brands company Chanel has argued “advertise, promote, offer for sale or sell” possibly counterfeit Chanel goods. The order is basically a more expansive private version of SOPA, in which the judge has let Chanel directly “seize” about 600 domains, as well as issued restraining orders and injunctions, including orders to Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter to “de-index and/or remove [the domain names] from any search results pages.”

[full story]

There has been a steady and consistent drumbeat from copyright holders to expand their protections in a more competitive environment.   Their history of hyperbole is legion, and all statements coming from their trade groups should be taken with several tons of salt.


Discussion on SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and Dgital Products in the 21st Century

Here’s the basics…

This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart.  If you are scanning down here while the video is loading or being boring, here’s the gist of the problem…

…hrmm…looks like they have realized who is doing the best work against them..

The Motion Picture Association of America came out swinging against critics who believe the Stop Online Piracy Act would disrupt Internet security and harm businesses. The trade organization’s Paul Hortenstine targeted the Electronic Frontier Foundation this week, calling the group’s objections “sky is falling rhetoric.”

[full story]

The EFF is hard on point on this, and has been one of the few groups that has consistently worked against this type of stuff for years.  “This type of stuff” being horribly overreaching legislation written by media companies for media companies.

Here’s a nice infographic that talks about the new powers granted in SOPA.

Here's why this is really bad legislation

That graphic was taken from this post.

These bills are bad and need to die a lonesome death upon that hill.

If you are one of those folks who complains about the confluence of corporate influence on government, or the basic existence of government regulation, this is one of those subject we should all agree on.  Fix this…stat!

MySpace Suicide and the XBox Legal Experience

In a somber note, I would like to extend my condolences to all first parties involved.

This is a sad situation about an unfortunate little girl.  Even more sadly, the emotional aspects of this case seem to have overwhelmed the logical ones, and put us in a very curious legal place.

And by “us” I’m talking about the 9th District in the U.S.

The background in the case can be read over here. I’m going to assume some familiarity with the case, as it’s probably all over the network news given the hot-topic/high emotional content of the situation.  This is the kind of case that makes for good TV.

Which I think falls under the label of “sadder still” but that’s a topic for another day.

Here I want to talk about what I think is good and bad about the decision.    There’s a couple of each.

First, I think it’s good that she was found both innocent of the felonies and guilty of some misdemeanor.  From what I understand of the case…

Legally, as [Defendant Lori] Drew’s lawyer Dean Steward repeatedly reminded the jury, the case was not about whether Drew caused Megan to commit suicide. Instead, Drew was accused of violating MySpace’s terms of service by obtaining personal information to inflict emotional distress on the teen.

Megan killed herself after “Josh” told her the world would be better off without her, prosecutors said. The assistant, 20-year-old Ashley Grills, testified under a grant of immunity that she was the one who sent the final message.  Drew’s daughter Sarah was also not charged.

Sarah told jurors her mother thought inventing “Josh” was a good idea but changed her mind two weeks later and told Grills to shut it down.

….and that’s not a felony.

Things to note here…[1] it wasn’t the accused (and convicted) that sent the final really nasty-gram, the government made a deal with the trigger-bitch, [2] this was a two-week romance, which, sadly, speaks to a not quite stable mind, and [3] THIS IS ABOUT VIOLATING MYSPACE’S TERMS OF SERVICE.

That’s the only “crime” they could come up with here.  What bothers me most about the verdict, is that while the jurors rightly realized they couldn’t legitimately call this action a felony, they still felt the need to punish this woman for her role in the tragedy.

BTW, the level where you get to a “felony” is a crime where…common-law and local-law wise…

The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person’s land and goods;

In the United States, where the felony/misdemeanor distinction is still widely applied, the Federal government defines a felony as a crime which involves a potential punishment of a year or longer in prison.

It also includes a bunch of other stuff…

In the United States felons often face additional consequences, such as the loss of voting rights in many states; exclusion from certain lines of work and difficulty in finding a job in others; prohibition from obtaining certain licenses; exclusion from purchase and possession of firearms, ammunition and body armour; and ineligibility to run for or be elected to public office. In addition, some states consider a felony conviction to be grounds for an uncontested divorce.

In other words, it should be for pretty damn serious crimes.  A felon is, quite literally, a lesser-citizen of the United States (a truth that factors into recidivism rates, no doubt).  Some may think getting back at a girl to defend your own children (and what other rationalization would Drew use, do you think?) might be grounds for felonious treatment, but I just can’t put sending a few fraudulent emails to a young girl in the same category as kidnapping and raping her.

Kidnap and rape are felonies.   Sending vicious emails and ignoring click-through agreements are not.

Especially, when it’s just “assumed” that people read them and they are binding.  This is the part of the case that really bothers me.  Remember, she ultimately got convicted for clicking-though an agreement and not following it…

But the emotional pull, and much of the testimony in the trial in federal court in Los Angeles, centered on the suicide. “The tragedy in this case is not just Megan Meier’s suicide. It’s the fact that it was so preventable,” Thomas O’Brien said in his closing statement.

The case is believed to be one of the first of its kind to use the statute barring unauthorized access to computers, which has previously been used to combat computer hacking, to address so-called cyberbullying.

So she got convicted for …. hacking?  Are you kidding me?  And they used the emotional story of a teen suicide to stretch the law that far?   Arrrghh!!

I’m sorry, but don’t you think the girl’s parents locking her in her room meant she spent an inordinate amount of time online?  Might that have, perhaps, adversely affected her ability to cope?

Megan’s mother, Tina Meier, told jurors that her daughter was taking medication for attention deficit disorder and depression, and that she struggled with low self-esteem. Concerned about her daughter’s safety, Meier said she had Megan’s father reverse the lock on her bedroom.

So her mother orders her kid to take all sorts of pills, then orders the father to lock their daughter in her room, forgets about turning off the internet, which the teen uses to find a friend…and then it falls apart….and now it’s considered a crime to violate an End-User-License-Agreement that no one flippin’ reads anyway.   What?!

Why can’t the lesson here be “don’t put your kids on a ton a drugs and lock them in their rooms”?

Which brings us to a video I made a week ago called the XBox Legal Experience….which I will now need to amend, it would seem…

At about 2:20 in that video I go off about what a joke it is that such an insanely impossible-to-read-or-understand CLICK-THROUGH legal agreement could be binding in a court of law (and yes, if you are using an XBox you have agreed not to use the service for “cyber-bullying”…or as it’s known in some places “online gaming.”).

It turns out I was wrong.

Thanks to a MySpace Suicide and the XBox Legal Experience, this kind of crap is now actually binding on tangential crimes.  You might want to go back and start reading everything you’ve agreed to.  If you install as much software as I do, reading EULA’s is probably going to take up a good part of your remaining life.

And so we see a glimpse of the vision, of the future, of a country, as brought to you by News Corp. and Microsoft.

Ain’t Corporate America grand?